This week’s Pic of the Week post gives you a glimpse of, well, something that defies all expectations…
Sifting out unwanted heads: A gruesome metaphor for collection development from the title page of Karl Ferdinand Hommel’s Litteratura Iuris (second edition), 1779.
The image above depicts an engraving of a person (arms only) shaking a sieve full of the dismembered heads of several species, including human beings, so that all of the animal heads fall out and only the human heads remain. What could this mean?
The engraving appears on the title page of a book entitled Litteratura Iuris (Editio Secunda) by the German academic legal scholar Karl Ferdinand Hommel (1722-1781). Hommel’s book is a bibliographical guide to the literature of the law. In it, the author divides the legal literature of his day into categories and then presents bibliographical essays that walk the practicing lawyer through the maze of books and scholars for each of the various fields of law. There are essays on biblical law, on the literature of the civil law, on canon law, on public law, on customary law and others. Especially interesting are his essays on rare books, on prohibited books and on literary fraud: plagiarism and false attributions of authorship. The second part of the book is a collection of biographical essays on the lives of the most important people in legal scholarship from the 12th to the 18th Century.
Throughout the work, Hommel conscientiously relates to the problems of reducing a guidebook for the literature of the law to the size of a single volume, explaining his method and his outlook at each turn. In the preface to the first edition of the work (1761), he suggests that a handful of the essays from the first half of the work will give you the keys to developing a highly scaled down, but excellent collection of law books: “notitia librorum exhibetur, neque tamen omnium, sed classicorum tantum, quos si quis possideat, de parva quidem, sed splendida et selectissima iuris bibliotheca sibi gratulari possit.” But what’s the price of scaling down a collection? Sifting out the lesser creatures…
On Tuesday, August 20, the Law Library of Congress and the Federal Bar Association (FBA) Criminal Law Section co-hosted a program called “The Criminal Justice Act at 50 – The Past, Present, and Future of the Right to Counsel in the Federal Courts.” The event marked the beginning of a year-long commemoration of the 50th […]
The following interview is with Michael Promisel, a summer intern working in the Collection Services Division of the Law Library of Congress. It is part of a series of interviews that introduce our summer interns to In Custodia Legis readers. Describe your background Although I cannot proclaim a direct line of descent, my background can […]
This week’s interview is with Charles Owen Verill Jr., Past President of the Friends of the Law Library and Partner at Wiley Rein LLP. Mr. Verill recalls his experience at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. The Library of Congress exhibition, “A Day Like No Other: Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the March […]
The following is a guest post by Chayada Polpun, a summer intern working in the Global Legal Research Center (GLRC), Law Library of Congress. I interviewed Chayada recently. You can learn about Chayada’s background and her work at GLRC by reading her interview which was published in In Custodia Legis on August 22, 2013. It is my pleasure to share my experience […]
Magna Carta, the Charter of Liberties sealed by King John of England in 1215 AD, is routinely cited as one of the most important documents of our constitutional tradition. It ranks with the English Bill of Rights (1689), The Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution in symbolic power. And while the details of […]
Matthew Braun and Barbara Bavis represented the Law Library of Congress at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting in San Francisco earlier this month. Matthew and Barbara presented “How to Conduct Free Legal Research Online” – a wildly successful course that counted for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits. The conference’s expo featured a booth where the […]
This installment of my Global Legal Monitor (GLM) Highlights post combines June and July GLM articles. The articles published in the two months addressed a wide range of legal subjects: Banks and financial institutions; Communications and electronic information; Criminal law and procedure; Education; Immigration; Labor; and Nationality and citizenship. Below is a list of the top […]
We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1854). In 2011, I wrote a guest post on the topic of trains and corruption when China‘s then Minister of Railways, Mr. Liu Zhijun, was removed from office for taking bribes relating to rail construction projects, in particular the […]
This week’s interview is with Dr. Sanaz Alasti, a Scholar in Residence at the Law Library of Congress. Dr. Alasti is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Lamar University and an Iranian legal scholar. This interview is conducted as part of a series of interviews that introduce our scholars and summer interns to In Custodia […]